Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE (AUS) today clearly won the 420 World Championship 2004 hosted by Mornington Yacht Club as part of the Sail Melbourne Regatta.
Their win was not unexpected; the Sydney pair are ranked No. 1 in the World in the 470 class and will arrive in Sandringham tonight to prepare for the final Australian team selection series to represent at the Olympic Games in Athens, the Sail Melbourne Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta that starts tomorrow from Sandringham Yacht Club on Port Phillip Bay.
Although Page had his first foray into 420 sailing at the Sail Melbourne 420 National Championships last week, in which the pair finished third, Wilmot is experienced in the class, having made the leap from it to the 470 to contest the Olympics some years back.
A former World 420 champion, Mathew BELCHER (AUS), with girlfriend Rike ZIEGELMAYER as crew, finished second on 39 points - 22 points behind Wilmot/Page.
Belcher, who comes from Queensland, had earlier with his brother Dan, seriously contemplated an Olympic campaign in the 470 class, and will most likely try again after the Athens Olympic Games are over.
Dan last year stepped down to complete a law degree. He will team up tomorrow with sometime crew, Nick Behrens, to take on the others in the 470 class at the Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta.
Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Ayden MENZIES, both from Lake Macquarie on the NSW north coast, are the current 420 Youth World champions and won the last race of this Championship to finish third overall, just three points behind Belcher/Ziegelmayer.
Last week, Outteridge, with Iain JENSEN as crew, won both the Youth and Australian 420 Championship, beating both Wilmot and Belcher, so was a little disappointed with third place today.
"We aimed at top three, but I really hoped to win, as we've beaten the other two before. We had a bit of bad luck at this regatta, picking some windshifts wrong, some of the light days were really difficult, it was so fluky, then we were also leading one race which was abandoned.
We knew the American's (Michael ANDERSON-Mit and Graham BIEHL) would be quicker on the lighter days, but we managed to overcome them. Actually, all those that beat us were the ones we thought could do it, so we got that right, at least,"
the 17 year-old said.
Outteridge leaves Mornington tonight to contest the Australian Youth Championship, which is also a selection event for the next Youth Worlds, with Iain JENSEN as crew, at McCrae Yacht Club.
Ayden Menzies, who at 18, will be too old to sail at the next Youth Worlds, will come to Sandringham Yacht Club tonight, ready to crew on a 470 with South Australian Dylan CLARKE, who just finished eighth at the Fireball Worlds in Adelaide.
They will tomorrow contest the Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta, one of many Sail Melbourne events on Port Phillip Bay this month, and the only Australian ISAF Grade 1 event.
Following on from her ISAF Youth 420 Worlds win in Portugal earlier this year, Elise RECHICHI and her crew of three months, Tessa Parkinson (AUS), kept their cool to finish 1-9-1 in today's final races to win 420 Ladies World Championships 2004 .
The girls, who took out the Australian Ladies and Youth Championship titles at Sail Melbourne last week, come from Perth in Western Australia.
They notched up an incredible six wins from 12 races for series points of 43, after two race drops, to deservedly win the title. Their nearest rivals, sisters Lucy and Nicola MACGREGOR (GBR), finished 19 points behind the winners with a total of 62, their best place today a second in Race 11.
The sisters defeated their third-placed English rivals, Charlotte SAVAGE/Hariette TRUMBLE, who were in second place going into today's races, their 19th place in Race 10 putting paid to any chance of a top three position.
Camille LECOINTRE /Gwendolyn LEMAITRE (FRA) were sixth overall when they left the dock from the host club, Mornington Yacht Club this morning; however a consistent 5-4-5 today lifted them up into third place overall.
Thirty seven girls from around the world contested the 420 Worlds, including representatives from Italy, Great Britain, France, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Brazil, Belgium and of course, Australia, the latter allowed 14 entries as the host Nation.
It has been a phenomenal past 12 months or so for Rechichi. What makes this win remarkable is the fact they are still Youth sailors. They also went into today's final three races knowing that any of the six top-placed girls could take the title, which would have added strain.
Rechichi is thrilled with their win. "It's my 18th birthday today, but I didn't tell anyone in case it put a bit of a hex on us, but it's just the best birthday present."
Asked if they expected to win the Worlds, Rechichi said, "we had a goal to be in the top three. We thought we had more chance if it was windier, we're not as good as some others are in light airs, but we sailed really well at this regatta and mostly it was light, so we are both very, very happy, but also a bit surprised at that.
I think the reason we are doing so well is that Tess (who is 17) is a fantastic crew and we get on so well, we are really good friends and never fight. We are both so happy. My Dad arrived here today, and he is quite excited - so is my Mum who was here earlier in the week to watch us, but had to go home.
Paying tribute to their coach Denis JONES, Rechichi said,
"we couldn't have done this without him, he has coached me for the last two years, he was here to see us win and I can't thank him enough for his support, he is such a good support to both of us."
Rechichi went on to say their major threats for the title were the eventual second, third and fourth place getters - "those girls were always going to be very hard to beat,"
Places this afternoon are of course provisional pending protests.
Competitors from the World fleets, the Silver fleet and the 420 Mornington Regatta will join together tonight for their presentation and farewell.
For full information, results and photos go to the official site at the address below.